The benefits are immense: thanks to the work of others we have all kinds of food, houses, streets, roads, cars, schools, trains, telephones, TV, clothes, furniture, Internet, medicines, hospitals, etc.
The limitations are also abundant. Many of them have their origin in the family or in the workplace: for example, I can not watch the TV show that I like because my wife wants to see another one; I can not go with the family to the place of excursion that I would like if the others insist on going to a different one; My bosses are the ones who impose the time of entry and exit of the office and tell me what work I have to do, etc.
Other times it is the Authority that limits freedom: through green and red lights it tells us when we can cross the street, they let us build a house only when we have fulfilled a very long list of conditions, they demand us to pay a certain amount of taxes (taking away the freedom to use part of our money), etc.
In general we accept some and other limitations as part of life, convinced that in principle they are for the good of all.
But one must consider whether all the limitations imposed by the Authority are fair and reasonable. Sometimes authority excessively limits freedom. And sometimes it grants excessive freedom.
In the United States, which claims to be the country of freedom and competition
surprisingly not enough freedom is given to parents to choose the school of their children. There is in fact a monopoly in secondary education, which is in the hands of public schools. Private schools are allowed by law, but do not have any state financial aid, so that parents who want a private school for their children have to pay all expenses, in addition to contributing their taxes to the support of public schools. This system notably reduces their freedom to choose a school.
In Australia, on the other hand, the Government helps considerably the private schools, according to a scale designed to give more help to the most needy schools and less help to the richer schools. As a result, the costs that parents have to pay in private schools are more affordable. This translates into greater freedom for parents when choosing their children’s school.
In Spain, for ideological reasons, not for pedagogical reasons, the freedom of parents who prefer a school for single-sex students is reduced: if they want to take their children to a public school, they are forced to go to a mixed school.
It also wants to limit in Spain excessively paternal freedom by forcing all students to take the subject called “Citizen Education”, a euphemism to hide that what is involved is to indoctrinate youth with the ideas of the ruling political party . Parents, as first educators of their children, must be given the freedom to decide whether their children will attend these classes or not. And we must give more freedom also so that students can be offered texts of the subject of Civic Education, different from those offered by the party in power.
In other areas, the Authority grants too much freedom. Anyone in the United States could buy weapons. After horrendous killings of innocents by the mentally ill, some limits and controls are being put in place for their sale. In Australia, the indiscriminate freedom to buy arms was reduced after the tragic massacre of several people in Tasmania a few years ago.
In the United States, there was recently too much freedom to give mortgage loans to people who did not have sufficient solvency. Property agents and unscrupulous lenders made their August by encouraging the massive granting of these loans. This created a huge debt difficult to pay, which was distributed among many investors. When the economic circumstances deteriorated and a multitude of borrowers could not pay the debts there was a generalized crisis (“the subprime mortgage crisis”) that is affecting all the countries of the first world. The Congress of the United States is limiting freedom in this area, as it was limited years ago so that monopolies and cartels were not produced, from which countless abuses against the helpless consumer were produced.
There is also too much freedom in many countries for the destruction of families.
The traditional family, that is, a man and a woman united for life by love and dedicated to the education of children, is a great good for those who compose it and for society. Divorces, followed by second and third marriages, cause deep and lasting wounds in the soul of the spouses and in the children’s, and also significant medical, legal and social security expenses.
It has been many years since civil legislation authorized divorce. And during all this time the perception of what marriage is has changed in the town. Before the divorce legislation, 99% of the population understood and accepted that marriage was a union for life. And although some marriages failed, the vast majority came to fruition. Families lived on and almost every child had a father and mother who loved each other and loved them.
Now, unfortunately, marriage is, for most, a fragile union, which can be broken very easily. And, as disagreements always arise, more and more marriages break up and the consequences of so many ruptures constitute a social plague. An article recently published by the Rockford Institute predicted that between 40% and 50% of marriages contracted in the United States last year would end in divorce.
The State has to ensure the good of society. And since, after many years of experimentation, it is clear the great damages that divorce and subsequent nuptials cause to the social body, it is necessary to study if it is necessary to restrict the excessive current freedom to break the family.
As Benedict XVI said recently, “governments must do everything possible to reinforce social policies that promote the stability and unity of marriage and the inalienable rights and duties of educating children.”
Another terrain in which excessive freedom is given in many countries is that of abortion. The death of a living human being, although not yet born, in the bosom of the mother, is horrendous for the innocent creature, traumatic for the woman and harmful for the society. It only benefits, economically, the doctors who commit these murders.
Good legislation does everything possible to ensure that all the more pregnancies come to fruition, educating the population, imposing on the troubled women the obligation to seek advice, and limiting the freedom to abort for the good of women and society.
One of the seven sages of Greece, Solon, recorded in the Temple of Delphi: “Nothing too much.” This same motto was defended in Spain by Saavedra Fajardo in the seventeenth century.
Not too much freedom or too little. We must help the rulers to find the just measure of freedom they have to give to citizens.